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Abstracts

Alphabetical by presenter's last name.

Wagnerian Vamps: Neo-Romanticism in Philip Glass’s Dracula (1931)
Melissa Camp (Texas Christian University)

The conflict between the traditional culture of rural Transylvania and the comparative modernity of nineteenth-century London is a central theme of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Although many various cinematic adaptations of Stoker’s novel have wrestled with these themes, Tod Browning’s silent film in 1931 is no exception. Initially, Browning’s film contained little music: two excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger—the former appearing during the opening credits and the latter diegetically in the film. In 1996, however, Philip Glass modernized the film by composing a new (post)minimalist score, providing the classic film with a musical continuity and uniformity it previously lacked. I argue that Glass’s score engages deeply with the tradition-versus-modernity themes that permeate both Stoker’s novel and Browning’s film, melding Romantic musical techniques with minimalist compositional methods. In particular, I argue that Glass embraces Wagnerian elements, such as leitmotifs that evolve slowly throughout the film in parallel nature to both the minimal musical process and character development. Glass’s incorporation of a leitmotif system while maintaining his minimalist style in turn creates a Neo-Romantic approach to the film score, idiosyncratically juxtaposing the Romantic and Modern eras in a way that is immediately understandable, if perhaps in a subconscious way, to contemporary viewers.

 

A Search for Things Past: Quotation as Memory and Mourning in the First Movement of Mahler’s Symphony no. 9
David Catchpole (Texas State University)

Since the initial performance in 1912, the reception of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 has been linked with concepts of death and remembrance. In his discussion of the first movement (Andante), the philosopher Theodor Adorno writes that the music is “reduced to a truly Proustian search for things past.” Though the literature regularly draws upon metaphors of remembrance in discussing Mahler’s works, there are no studies examining the musical mechanisms used to invoke these ideas. In this paper, I explore Mahler’s quotation of and allusion to his prior compositions and works by other composers in the first movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in order to better understand how the work invokes ideas of remembrance and relates to his biography. To do this I will examine the work’s compositional history, the annotations found in the autograph manuscript score, the position of the work in Mahler’s biography, and the reception history. Drawing on the concepts of intertextuality and Julian Johnson’s idea of discursive framing of voice, I will contextualize Mahler’s use of quotation and allusion in the first movement, Andante con moto, with a special focus on the position of the quotations from Johann Strauss’s waltz Freut Euch dem Leben, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 81a Les Adueix, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, and Das Lied von der Erde. Ultimately, I suggest a more specific and personal potential reading of the movement than has previously been presented.

 

“Die Teufelsmühle:” Continental Reception of Vogler’s Chromatic Rule of the Octave
Doug Donley (University of North Texas)

By the end of the 18th century, two main systems of harmony dominated theory and composition in Europe: Rameau’s fundamental bass and the older thoroughbass practice, which, among other things, emphasized the “rule of the octave” and partimenti.  Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler (1749-1814) inherited a number of concepts from both of these traditions and carefully mixes them according to his own theoretical logic.  Using Vogler’s Chromatic Rule of the Octave as a case study, this paper 1) explains how Vogler’s theory is different from the more prevalent systems of his era, and 2) shows why other musicians in Europe preferred either fundamental bass or thoroughbass over Vogler’s great compromise.

 

Eric Dolphy’s Out
Clay Downham (University of Colorado Boulder)

An ardent force of the 1960s avant-garde, musician, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Eric Dolphy (1928-1964) developed systematic musical strategies for playing out, despite naïve or racist perceptions of his music as random, comical, or most famously “anti-jazz.” The metaphor of out or playing outside has pervaded discourses of jazz and improvised musics since the 1950s. In particular, George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (1959, 2nd ed. & 1964 "Technical Appendix"), the most influential music-theoretic treatise to arise from African-American musical communities, establishes a universe of tonal possibilities for musicians to explore, including conditions for “ingoing melodies” and “outgoing melodies.” Through its inclusive and experimental philosophy, Russell’s LCCOTO contributed to the technologies of performance and aesthetic agencies of African-American musicians and others, particularly following its second publication in 1959. However, Russell’s music-theoretic work, the metaphor of out, and Dolphy’s music have received little scholarly attention despite their ubiquitous positions in avant-garde music during the 1960s and beyond. Eric Dolphy and his music provide an ideal case study of how Russell’s LCCOTO can be apprehended by musicians and taken into a unique outward-bound trajectory.

In this presentation, I focus on two recordings from the last several months of Dolphy’s life in 1964: “Take the ‘A’ Train” live video footage with the Charles Mingus Sextet and “Gazzelloni” from Dolphy’s last studio record, Out to Lunch!. For example, Dolphy’s sketchbooks include voice-leading sketches of ii-V-I progressions in C, which places a quartal/quintal harmony (Eb-Ab-Db-Gb) in lieu of the dominant G7 chord. Serving as an “outgoing melody” in Russell’s sense, this quartal/quintal harmony then appears in the form of an Ab blues scale schema (Ab-Cb-Db-D-Eb-Gb) in Dolphy’s solo on “Take the ‘A’ Train.” In the case of “Gazzelloni,” Dolphy bases his composition on a two-octave synthetic scale he designed (F#,G,A,C,D,E,F,G#,B,C#,D#,F#), which establishes a 13-bar form that is negotiated during the course of collective improvisation. Based on my research with Dolphy’s personal music manuscripts (Eric Dolphy Collection at the Library of Congress), I demonstrate how Eric Dolphy devised novel strategies for playing out by extending both Russell’s theories and previous compositional and improvisational schemata.

 

Franchinus Gaffurius and the Notion of Sweetness [Suavitas] in Practica musicae (1496)
Yiyi Gao (University of North Texas)

Scholars, such as Rob Wegman and Christopher Page, have written about the notion of suavitas in Tinctoris’s treatises. The expression invokes the beauty of music by Binchois, Dufay and other composers. However, historians have not fully explored the concept of suavitas in Franchinus Gaffurius’s writing. Given Mary Carruthers’s insightful opinion that suavitas is a sensory experience and directly causes pleasure in the late fifteenth century, I propose that in his Practica musicae (1496), Gaffurius views suavitas as an essential aesthetic in guiding construction of consonant three-pitch sonorities that are pleasing to the ear. In my paper, I explain how Gaffurius considers suavitas from a compositional perspective. He mainly aims at proper arrangement of concords and good voice leading, which create the sense of pleasing sweetness. Besides octaves and perfect fifths, Gaffurius advocates frequent usage of thirds and major sixths because they are agreeable to the ear. As opposed to other theorists in the century, he claims the principle that the harmonic instead of arithmetic mean applied to the octave produces a very pleasing [gratiorem] and sweet [suauiorem] sonority of a fifth-octave chord; a five-three triadic sonority in the diatonic genus imitates the harmonic division, and thus they sound sweet as well.(Blackburn remarks that the only theorist before Zarlino who expressed this opinion is Gaffurius.) Also, he introduces the suavitas quartae (“agreeable sweetness of the fourth”) in the style of fauxbourdon. In summary, Gaffurius’s aesthetic idea of sweetness strives for cultivating the most pleasing sonority and tone color in counterpoint—mostly associated with appropriate arrangement of three-pitch harmony and voice-leading. Through his aesthetic and the musical examples in Practica musicae, we are able to achieve a further understanding of what great counterpoint sounded like in his time.

 

Finding Meaning in the Borrowed Melodies of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony
Adam Rosado (Louisiana State University)

Shostakovich’s eleventh symphony is an outlier among his works in the genre. Dedicated to those who died in the Bloody Sunday uprising at the Czar’s winter palace in 1905, the symphony’s themes are made up almost entirely of melodies from existing works, including both self-quotations and popular music from the early years of the Soviet Union. Soviet critics praised Shostakovich’s eleventh symphony for honoring the pre-revolutionary martyrs, but others found a distinctly anti-government message in the work, claiming it condemned the Soviet reaction to an uprising in Hungary that took place in 1956.

Evidence for a meaning contrary to the program approved by the state can be found by highlighting two musical facets: the selection of quoted materials and the unique alterations to which Shostakovich subjects them. This paper will primarily center on the quotations of the mass songs Varshavianka and Rage, Tyrants as well as Shostakovich’s own “Ninth of January” from his 10 Songs on Revolutionary Poets, op. 88. A reading of the lyrics of selected passages of both pieces highlights the violence and death present in the workers’ uprising, while leaving out lines which portray the justification and glory of the revolution. Shostakovich also alters the quoted melodies from their original forms. The thematic materials are subjected to disassociation from their original harmonic function, and in some instances, to additional chromatic modal alteration. Through his alteration of simple pro-revolutionary themes, Shostakovich creates the possibility of alternate meanings throughout the symphony.

 

Nose to the Grind: Structural Paradigms in Grindcore and its Closely Related Genres
Paul Royse (University of Cincinnati)

Grindcore is a musical genre that has evolved from thrash metal and fuses elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk.  Its characteristics include dissonant harmonies, erratic tempo and texture changes, abrasive vocals, dark humor subject matter, complex metrical schemes, and “micro-songs” often lasting no longer than one minute.  Superficially, this music can seem ridiculous; song titles such as The Locust's “Priest with the Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Get Out of My Bed” and song lengths that span only one second like Napalm Death’s “You Suffer” can initially seem off-putting and without musical merit.  However, deeper study of the genre reveals technically demanding and experimental complexities that diverge from typical pop-rock traditions.  It is also the antithesis of “Jam Band” music, as it juxtaposes numerous musical changes often within the span of a minute and seeks to alienate listeners rather than comfort them.

This paper proposes a general introduction to analytical perspectives of grindcore music, particularly songs in the canon that qualify as microsongs. By identifying characteristics of these songs, this theoretical study will highlight the deviations the genre makes to pop-rock convention and alignments to already proposed models. Stephenson’s and Osborn’s (2011) frameworks for pop, rock, and metal will be set against through-composed grindcore songs. This paper will trace the lineage of grindcore structure from the genres it grew out of and illustrate both the unification of styles and individual tropes of the genre which influence song structure.  Perhaps this genre, like others which are misunderstood yet influential, can explain trends within other genres developed in the last 25 years of recorded music, particularly metal and punk.

 

An Experiential Statistical Method for Segmenting Electroacoustic Music
Andrew Selle (Florida State University)

The question of how we understand and segment any piece of music is often difficult to answer, and this difficulty is compounded when examining electroacoustic music. This genre rarely has an appreciable score, and the sonic idioms in which it is situated do not generally conform to typical notions of structure or syntax. How, then, should we attempt to parse a work of electroacoustic music into meaningful syntactical units or segments?

In this paper, I propose a methodology for segmenting electroacoustic music based in Pierre Schaeffer’s concept of reduced listening (écoute réduite), wherein sounds objects (objets sonores) are listened to only for their sonic content, disregarding extramusical or syntactical function. I examine relevant sonic parameters (which are unique to each piece) individually, tracking their parametric intensity values across the course of the piece as well as their level of stability and instability. Once this process has taken place across multiple sonic parameters, statistical observations can be made about the relative stability and instability of the work as a whole. Moments that feature high levels of instability are understood to be inherently transitory and candidate points for segmentation, whereas areas of the work that have little sonic parametrical change are considered to be stable. Thus, this methodology combines the act of experiential and phenomenological observation with statistical analysis.

The final section of this paper is devoted to an analysis of John Chowning’s 1977 stereo electroacoustic work Stria. This piece is difficult to parse using traditional methodologies as it is unscored and features the same general musical texture and timbre throughout. However, using the proposed analytical methodology reveals segmentation points that align across multiple sonic parameters as well as (and most importantly) with one’s experience in listening to the piece.

Ultimately, I argue that this analytical methodology is valuable in that it provides an approachable and critical way for both the less experienced as well as expert analyst to engage with the segmentation of electroacoustic music. Most importantly, this method places an emphasis above all on the utilization of the listening experience in analysis.

 

Reading, Realizing, and Performing Disability in Henry Cowell’s The Hero Sun
Joshua Tanis (Florida State University)

Joseph Straus’s recent research (2011 et al.) in the burgeoning field of disability studies and music reveals a strong connection between the aesthetic characteristics of modernist composition and the musical representation of disability. Straus explains that the “shattering of traditional norms of formal continuity” characterizes deformity/disfigurement in modernist music. While musical representations of disability are becoming more widely analyzed in some modernist music (Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and others), there remains a void in the application of such analytical practice to the music of ultramodern composers. This paper considers disability aesthetics in the music of Henry Cowell—a well-known, yet analytically underrepresented ultramodern composer. I posit that alternating treble and bass clusters, fragmented formal sections, conflicting meter signatures, and juxtaposed consonances and dissonances in Cowell’s The Hero Sun represent the deformity/disfigurement and inherent tensions associated with disabled persons.

My analysis centers on musical representations of deformity/disfigurement through register, form, meter, and harmony—that is, how Cowell’s treatment of these musical parameters contrasts and creates tension with classic-romantic norms. First, semitone-separated V–I motion among consonant chords and dissonant tone-clusters in the Largo sections disfigures harmonic clarity. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of “implicit” and “explicit” V–I motion evokes the tension associated with disability and disabled entities. Second, form is fractured by (1) the alternation of Largo and Allegro sections and (2) the oscillation between bass- and treble-register clusters. Third, simultaneous 3/4 and 4/4 meters distort unified wholeness and interrupt musical and narrative linearity. This metric disfigurement is normalized—the most common response to disability (Straus, 2011)—by the piece’s concluding 2/4 measures.

My analysis focuses also on Cowell’s biography, namely his childhood disability. Without positing a definitive cause-and-effect relationship, I situate Cowell’s juvenile chorea within the evolution of his tone clusters. Moreover, this approach appeals to a mapping of composer disability onto a disablist analysis of Cowell’s music. Musical representations of disability do not directly claim composer disability; rather, Cowell—like many modernist composers—embodies, affirms, and celebrates the creative potential of disability aesthetics as compositional impetus.

 

Liberty Votes and Ballot Boxes: Evocative Artwork and Political Protest in Antebellum Popular Music
Jonathan Verbeten (Texas Tech University)

The antebellum period witnessed a radical cultural and political shift which had far reaching implications on the newly developing American popular music industry. Music commercialization was fueled by the large scale production and affordability of pianos and the proliferation of sheet music by major publishing companies such as Firth and Hall in New York and Oliver Ditson & co. in Boston. The influx of immigrants, industrialization and urbanization, the growing middle-class, the debate over slavery, changing patriarchal roles and woman's suffrage, westward expansion, and a growing rift between Northern and Southern states, inspired much of the music for this nascent industry. America was facing an identity crisis and it was against this social backdrop that the New Hampshire based Hutchinson Family Singers gained their fame. Their politically charged lyrics were disseminated to masses through sales of sheet music and addressed topical issues such as the temperance movement, woman's suffrage, immigration, and most notably the abolitionist movement.

This paper first examines their hit song "Get Off the Track!" and considers the visual semiotics of the sheet music cover art—particularly noting how the use of music, lyrics, and art all contributed to furthering their abolitionist agenda. I continue by discussing the reception of their message and the impact it had on the debate over slavery. The story of the Hutchinsons is a sad one. Their celebrity resulted in scandalous rumors and tabloid stories. Judson Hutchinson even took his own life when he realized the goals put forth in his music were unattainable. Their songs challenged the ubiquitous acceptance of black face minstrel shows, resulting in parodies of their own music by minstrel groups who sometimes went as a far as dressing in "white face" to caricature the Hutchinsons. Pro-slavery newspapers wrote of the dangers of their songs and debate over a concert scheduled in Baltimore even led to a riot. Their story and songs offer a glimpse into the complicated and fragile social fabric of our nation during this critical juncture in American history.